Building Gold Crystals... with DNA?

Researchers at Northwestern University have recently been able to create 3D structures from particles of gold by using DNA. How exactly? The technique involves getting incredibly small particles to self-assemble to a predetermined design. DNA is made up of four basic building blocks - adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine (A, G, C, and T), and one strand of DNA can bind with a complementary strand. By using different DNA strands and modifying these strands with gold particles, new nano nuggets of gold of different shapes and sizes can be created.

This process could be used with other materials, with wide applications in therapeutics, diagnostics, optics, and electronics. Scientists are a step closer to the dream of breaking everything down into simple particles and reassembling them into "designer" structures.

Source: DNA does the work: Building new gold crystals

Pitter Patter of Little Feet . . .

Going where? Up the wall! The uncanny ability of geckos to climb shear walls has fascinated scientists for years. Researchers at the University of California - Berkeley, have developed an adhesive that mimics the easy attach and easy release of the reptile's padded feet. This new material is made up of millions of tiny plastic fibers that establish grip, and a mere square two centimeters on a side can support close to a pound! When the tape presses into a surface and slides downwards, it sticks. When the tape is lifted, it releases!

The trick behind a gecko's speedy vertical escape has been exposed! The new material could prove useful for a range of products, from climbing equipment to medical devices.

Source: The Pitter Patter of Little Feet . . . Climbing Straight Up a Wall

Master Chief Vacuum Cleaner

In today's high-tech world of Dysons and Roombas, how is a new vacuum going to stand out? Samsung is trying to appeal to the gaming crowd by designing a model that looks like the Master Chief character from the Halo universe.

The Silencio SC950 has all the high-end features you'd expect: cyclonic suction, HEPA filter, and a super-special silver nanoparticle coating. Samsung's Silver Nano technology uses the anti-bacterial properties of silver to the dust, pre-motor filter, and post-motor filter of the vacuum cleaner. What do these silver nanoparticles do? They help the build up of bacteria and odors so that the air emitted from the vacuum is odor-free and bacteria-free.

Samsung's Master Chief Vacuum Cleaner: Kills Bacteria. Dead.

Source: Nanotechnology, sci-fi, master chief vacuum cleaner

Watch nanotubes grow!

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have used in situ time-lapse photography and laser irradiation to watch and record the growth of carbon nanotubes. Laser irradiation of the growing nanotubes help prove that the nanotubes grow from catalyst particles at their bases. Researchers are interested in finding ways to grow the longest tubes in the fastest amount of time while still maintaining good nanotube quality. Irradiating the nanotubes with a laser during growth has also been shown to increase the growth rate of the arrays.

Watch cool videos of growing nanotubes HERE!

Why are carbon nanotubes so interesting? They can be used to make things lighter and stronger, build space elevators, and even combat cancer!

Oh My Aching Knees!

Understanding of the human body at the cellular and molecular level can help develop new and improved treatments for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. At the University of Leeds, scientists have discovered a new mechenism involving a naturally-occurring protein, thioredoxin, that controls ion channels. Ion channels are proteins on the surface of the cell that act as doorways in and out of the cell. These doorways can let electrically charged atoms (ions) across the cell membrane to carry out different functions, such as blood glucose regulating, heart beat timing, and pain transmission.

Thioredoxin has been found to activate these doorways by donating electrons to it, in a process that Professor Beech compares to "an electronic on-switch". People with inflammatory diseases have high production levels of this thioredoxin protein to protect the body from the stressful and damaging chemical reactions that occur with inflammation. By studying and mimicking this protein, scientists may be able to develop safer and more effective therapeutics.

Source: ‘Electronic switch’ opens doors in rheumatoid joints
Image Source: Wikipedia

Nano Barcodes

Researchers at Northwestern University have been studying how to use nanometer sized disks of gold and nickel to encrypt information. These nanodisks can form a pattern much like a barcode, which means that each pattern would have a unique response to a stimulus, such as electromagnetic radiation or light, depending on what type of molecule (or molecules) are attached to the disks. Their small size would also allow them to be invisible to the naked eye, and easily hidden in different materials or objects.

Chad Mirkin and his research group have made nanodisk arrays as long as 12 micrometers, which can support as many as 10 disk pairs, which yields 287 physical nanodisk codes. The researchers have functionalized these disks with dye molecules called chromophores that emit a unique light spectrum when illuminated with a laser beam. These disks could be used as biological labels in applications such as DNA detection, or as tags for tracking goods and personal.

Source: Nanodisk Codes